Ashram

Ashram

Overview

Traditionally, an ashram (Sanskrit/Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

: आश्रम) is a spiritual hermitage
Hermitage (religious retreat)
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio
Studio
A studio is an artist's or worker's workroom, or the catchall term for an artist and his or her employees who work within that studio. This can be for the purpose of architecture, painting, pottery , sculpture, scrapbooking, photography, graphic design, filmmaking, animation, radio or television...

 or dojo
Dojo
A is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the way". Initially, dōjōs were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to...

.

An ashram would typically, but not always, be located far from human habitation, in forests or mountainous regions
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

, amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to spiritual instruction and meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

.
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Traditionally, an ashram (Sanskrit/Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

: आश्रम) is a spiritual hermitage
Hermitage (religious retreat)
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio
Studio
A studio is an artist's or worker's workroom, or the catchall term for an artist and his or her employees who work within that studio. This can be for the purpose of architecture, painting, pottery , sculpture, scrapbooking, photography, graphic design, filmmaking, animation, radio or television...

 or dojo
Dojo
A is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the way". Initially, dōjōs were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to...

.

An ashram would typically, but not always, be located far from human habitation, in forests or mountainous regions
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

, amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to spiritual instruction and meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

. The residents of an ashram regularly performed spiritual and physical exercises, such as the various forms of Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

. Other sacrifices and penances, such as Yajna
Yajna
In Hinduism, yajna is a ritual of sacrifice derived from the practice of Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods or to attain certain wishes...

s were also performed. Many ashrams also served as Gurukul
Gurukul
A gurukul is a type of school in India, residential in nature, with shishyas living in proximity to the guru, often within the same house...

s or residential schools for children.
Ashrams have been a powerful symbol throughout Hindu history and theology. Most Hindu kings, until the medieval ages, are known to have had a sage who would advise the royal family in spiritual matters, or in times of crisis, who was called the rajguru, which literally translates to royal teacher. A world-weary emperor going to this guru's ashram, and finding solace and tranquility, is a recurring motif in many folktales and legends of ancient India.

Sometimes, the goal of a pilgrimage to the ashram was not tranquility, but instruction in some art, especially warfare. In the Hindu epic Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, the protagonist princes of ancient Ayodhya, Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 and Lakshmana
Lakshmana
Lakshmana was the brother and close companion of Rama, and himself a hero in the famous epic Ramayana...

, go to the Rishi
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

 Vishvamitra's ashram to protect his Yajna
Yajna
In Hinduism, yajna is a ritual of sacrifice derived from the practice of Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods or to attain certain wishes...

s from being defiled by emissary-demons of Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

. After they prove their mettle, the princes receive martial instruction from the sage, especially in the use of Divine weapons, called Divyastras (Sanskrit Divya: Divine + Astra: missile weapon; the Sanskrit word 'astra
Astra (weapon)
In Hindu mythology, an ' was a supernatural weapon, presided over by a specific deity. To summon or use an astra required knowledge of a specific incantation/invocation, when armed. The deity invoked would then endow the weapon, making it impossible to counter through regular means. Specific...

' means missile weapon, such as an arrow, as opposed to 'shastra', which means a hand-to-hand weapon, such as a mace.) In the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Lord Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, in his youth, goes to the ashram of Sage Sandipani
Sandipani
Sandipani, which means "Sage of Gods", was a guru of Lord Krishna. Sandipani was a rishi/muni/saint of Ujjain, previously known as Avantipura....

, to gain knowledge of both intellectual and spiritual matters.

Schools in Maharashtra


Residential schools especially run in the tribal areas of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and elsewhere in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 are called Ashram Shala or Ashram schools, one such school is the Lok Biradari Prakalp Ashram Shala.